Despite recent advances in treatment, more people are dying from viral hepatitis than other chronic infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.  

A new report has revealed that in 2016, the total global deaths caused by viral hepatitis was 1.34 million, making it a greater killer than tuberculosis (1.2 million), HIV/AIDS (1 million) and malaria (719,000).

Nationally, north western Melbourne has the fifth highest prevalence of people living with chronic hepatitis B, with a particularly high proportion in Brimbank, Maribyrnong, Hume and the city of Melbourne.

Encouragingly, 21.4% (compared with the national average of 15.3%) of people living with chronic hepatitis B in our region are receiving treatment or monitoring.

To strengthen early testing and diagnosis, a consortium of partners launched the statewide Victorian HIV and Viral Hepatitis Integrated Training and Learning (VHHITAL) program.

The program delivers comprehensive education and training for GPs for the diagnosis, treatment and management of HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and sexually transmitted infections (STI). It includes the provision of training and certification for practitioners who prescribe highly specialised drugs administered under Section 100 (S100) of the National Health Act 1953.

The VHHITAL program is a joint effort between NWMPHN, the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine, Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Alfred Health and the Victorian PHN Alliance, funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

To find out more about the VHHITAL program, contact Sami Stewart.

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